Year of the Pig

Posted on Jan. 05, 2007 by CPO in Latest Stamps
You are a "pig person" if you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 or 2007.

The sun had already set as the last of the animals crossed the river. The Jade Emperor held his lantern above the pig's head and sighed in resignation as the pig explained: "I was hungry and stopped to eat. After the meal, I was so tired that I had to take a nap."

And thus, according to popular Chinese legend, we learn how the pig became the final animal of the 12-year lunar cycle. The other animals, upon hearing that the Emperor would name each lunar year in order of each animal finishing the race across the river, had feverishly responded to his challenge.

This tale is beautifully expressed within Canada Post's soon-to-be-released "Lunar New Year: Year of the Pig" stamp, the eleventh issue within a 12-year series. From the lantern-inspired shape of the souvenir sheet to the shadowed figure of the Jade Emperor, Vancouver-based Signals Design has carefully integrated the detail and spirit of both the legend and the pig into the stamp's design.

"We were focusing on two conceptual elements. The first was the legend of the race, and so we incorporated the river and the Jade Emperor into the stamp's design. The uncut press sheet goes further still - it retells the legend in three languages, expresses four good luck wishes in traditional Chinese characters, and includes symbols of each of the twelve animals of the lunar cycle," says John Belisle of Signals Design. "We also found that the pig itself was such an amusing aspect of the tale that we tried to integrate a little whimsy into the overall feel."

The second conceptual element that the stamp's design reflects is that of cloisonné, a unique art form that is thought to have originated in Beijing during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post, notes that "this sophisticated enameling technique integrates gold or bronze metal strips and is an extremely popular technique still used today in Chinese porcelain beads, vases and artwork. Just as flowers are often a focal detail in cloisonné art, the stamp's pig mimics this art form with foil-stamped flowers covering his body."

Working closely together, Leduc and the designers at Signals followed through on these conceptual elements until the last drop of ink was dry on the press sheet. From undertaking focus groups with members of the Chinese community to testing unique printing processes that would replicate the cloisonné style, both parties were committed to producing an exceptional product.

The result is a thoughtful design, which aptly commemorates 2007, the Year of the Pig, in a celebration set of collectibles that includes a domestic stamp, an international stamp, a souvenir sheet, an official first day cover (OFDC), a souvenir sheet OFDC, an uncut press sheet and a Royal Canadian Mint coin.

Pig People
People born in the Year of the Pig are considered to be kind and caring in nature, with a jovial and easygoing character that belies their resistance and tenacity. At the same time social and self-reliant, pig people are dependable, extremely determined and perfect friends. But beware-pigs love luxury and can be susceptible to excesses of pleasure!

You are a "pig person" if you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 or 2007. Famous pig people include: Louise Arbour, Bryan Adams, Lucille Ball, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Henry Ford, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Elton John, Evelyn Lau, Henri Léon Lebesgue and Sandra Oh.

Stamp Specifications

  • Design: John Belisle, Kosta Tsetsekas (Signals)
  • Gum Type: P.V.A.
  • Illustration: John Belisle
  • Paper Type: Tullis Russell Coatings
  • Perforations: 13+
  • Printer: Lowe-Martin
  • Tagging: General, 4 sides
  • Product #: 403670145
  • Layout: Souvenir Sheet
  • Price: $1.55
  • Denomination: 1 x 1.55
  • Dimensions: 98 mm x 97 mm (horizontal)
  • Printing Process: Lithography in 9 colours plus two foil stampings and embossing
  • Quantity: 700,000
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  • Product #: 403670107
  • Layout: Pane of 25 stamps
  • Price: $13.00
  • Denomination: 1 x 52¢
  • Dimensions: 48 mm x 26 mm (horizontal)
  • Printing Process: Lithography in 8 colours plus two foil stampings and embossing
  • Quantity: 8,000,000
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